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Call for climate change to drive future planning

publication date: Oct 27, 2009
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A new campaign is being launched in Parliament today (Tuesday 27 October 2009) to persuade the Government to put climate change at the heart of the English planning system.

A cross-sector coalition of organisations – including leading planners and countryside and environmental organisations - has drawn up draft planning guidance which would transform the system’s ability to meet the challenge of tackling climate change.

The draft guidance will be unveiled to MPs at a launch in Westminster today, which will be addressed by Housing and Planning Minister John Healey MP.

The coalition, which has been brought together by Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), has made detailed suggestions for improving the planning process by making it fairer and ensuring that it plays its part in slashing carbon emissions and meeting the targets set out in the Climate Change Act. Proposals include:
• Setting renewable energy targets for local councils;
• A duty on local authorities to map out green energy opportunities in their area that would enable them to meet their targets - especially potential community-based schemes;
• The establishment of a technical body to monitor progress;
• Setting up an education programme on climate change for councillors and planners.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition Dr Hugh Ellis said:
“Words like innovation, risk taking and inspirational leadership are not normally what we get from planners - we need effective strategic action where we all take responsibility for reducing emissions.

"Justice and sustainable development have to be at the heart of the system. It’s not about mindless deregulation, it’s about putting the planning system to work to save our communities.”

Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said:
"The planning system must play a key part in UK efforts to meet its targets for tackling climate change.

"New guidance is desperately needed to boost green development and prevent carbon-hungry projects from being approved.

"Local councils have a major role to play in ensuring UK emissions reductions are met - the Government must ensure that local councils get serious about CO2."

TCPA Energy Policy Manager Kate Henderson said:
"The planning system can play a key part in tackling climate change by ensuring we get the right amount of renewable energy, by encouraging carbon zero development and by shaping development which reduces the need to travel by car.

"But despite some excellent rhetoric, much of the planning system is still locked in the age of stupid. It allows carbon intensive development and often refuses real solutions to climate change such as renewable energy projects."

The Government has already accepted that the system needs to be improved to enable UK climate targets to be met.

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For further information please contact:
Contact: Fiona Mannion, TCPA press office, 020 7930 8903
Marie Reynolds, Friends of the Earth press office, 020 7566 1649 (24 hours), Email: Fiona.Mannion@tcpa.org.uk

Notes to Editors:
1. The Coalition welcomes the Government’s commitment to publish a new Planning Policy Statement on climate change. The new policy should be informed by the following principles:
• A restatement of the importance of sustainable development as the key objective for the planning system
• A strong commitment to the plan-led system which can produce certainty and transparency for all sectors
• A commitment to make climate change a vital factor in all planning decision-making
• A strong commitment to environmental justice and open, transparent and participative decision making
• A recognition of the importance of adaptation and the need to integrate mitigation and adaptation solutions
• The creation of a new technical advice body to ensure the integration of data sets, methodologies and target regimes
• The introduction of a new energy paradigm which requires a holistic and positive approach to minimising energy demand and to large scale, community level and micro-renewables energy opportunities.

2. The Planning and Climate Change Coalition includes over 30 organisations and individuals: Addison & Associates, AECOM, BioRegional, BRE Global/ BREEAM, Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Chris Shepley CBE, Chris Tivey Associates, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Combined Heat & Power Association (CHPA), The Council for British Archaeology, David Howard Property Services Ltd, Eco Architecture Planning & Permaculture Design Consultants, Friends of the Earth, Grasslands Trust, Greenpeace, Groundwork, Instinctively Green Ltd, Dr Jim Watson, Kelvin MacDonald, Landscape Institute, The National Trust, PRP Architects, RSPB, The Rutland Group, Sustain, Sustainable Buildings Association (AECB), Sustrans, Thameswey Group, Town & Country Planning Association, Urban Roots, UK Green Buildings Council and Woodland Trust.

3. The cross sector Coalition, a joint initiative between the TCPA and Friends of the Earth, was formed in July 2009 and aims:
• To make recommendations for new strategic planning guidance on climate change in England, bringing together PPS1 (planning and climate) and PPS22 (renewable energy).
• To build consensus amongst a wide range of stakeholders on the benefits of new guidance
• To work with Government to ensure the fastest possible implementation of the new guidance

4. The Coalition position statement being launched in Parliament today was produced following 2 policy meetings (July and Sept 09) and extensive feedback from approximately 100 stakeholders.

5. In July Government responded to the Coalition’s call by pledging to “update PPS1 and PPS22 so as to ensure they set a clear and challenging framework for delivering energy infrastructure and cutting carbon emissions consistent with national ambitions” in the Renewable Energy Strategy.